In the past few years, the conversation around holding people accountable for their actions has been very hostile. You have people deliberately searching for tweets with slurs to find out a now big YouTuber said something homophobic when they were 14 and now want them off the face of the planet, where it’s quite clear the goal is not to hold them accountable or promote growth, but playing God.
Then there is the other end of the spectrum.
Here people will blanket state all people who call others out and asks celebrities/influencers to address an ignorant, hateful, or harmful situation as “cancel culture extremists” and that way deflect from any sort of responsibility. It doesn’t even matter how vile and disturbing an action might have been, it is all just put under “ugh, cancel culture is so toxic and just wants to ruin careers!”
(Again, there is definitely an issue of mob culture where some people will be ruthless and go way too far. Yet the vast majority of people calling out racism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. don’t send death and rape threats or doxx people. But nuance doesn’t exist on the internet, so of course, they’re all just lumped together.)
When a celeb/influencer does make an apology, there is a very curious pattern of responses occurring where their fans will either 1. flock to defend them of any wrongdoing or 2. accept the apology … even though they are not part of the affected group that is being apologized to.
So, I ask you, why do you feel entitled to dispute the need for an apology/accept an apology that isn’t meant for you?
“I can’t believe cancel culture got Jenna Marbles:(“
– but it didn’t though, right..?Jenna Marbles / A Message
“There is a couple of things that people want me to address and apologise for, and I am happy to do that. Because what I want from the people that I support and that I like is to have accountability and to know that I am supporting someone who’s morals and values align with my own.”JENNA MARBLES / A MESSAGE
Last week, one of YouTube’s biggest creators, Jenna Marbles, posted a video titled “A Message” (now deleted). In the video, she brought up some old videos that some fans had asked here to address; this included a clip where she dressed up as Nicki Minaj in blackface and another where mocked Asians.
She also brought up a video where she slut-shamed other women, and talked about how she had taken down a bunch of videos about “what guys do” and “what girls do” since she doesn’t feel like jokes about gender and gender roles are that funny any more.
“All that matters is that people were offended and it hurt them, and for that, I am so unbelievably sorry.”
She then announced that she was gonna leave YouTube, for a while or maybe even forever. And that is when the internet exploded. With tweets after tweets and videos after videos raging about how cancel culture is ruining everything and how Jenna was such an unproblematic queen! (Something she addressed in her video and stated as one of the reasons she even made the video as it made her uncomfortable to be put on such a pedestal when she knew it wasn’t true)
And yet, Jenna was never cancelled. She was beloved and rarely part of any controversies. Some of her fans wanted her to address and apologize about the racist videos she had made in the past, so she did. The things she brought up about slut-shaming and gender roles were completely unprovoked – something that she wanted to “purge” (her words) herself from.
I’m on Twitter a lot. Too much probably. And I swear not a soul was calling for Jenna to be de-platformed or anything even close to that. She made the video, she decided to leave her channel, she didn’t victimise herself. She showed growth and accountability, yet the people that she hurt and offended are being raged at and blamed for her leaving. As commentary YouTuber Amandabb said in her video ‘let’s talk about “cancel culture” …‘:
“You are playing into white-woman-victimhood, you immediately took off the responsibility of the white woman, Jenna, who came on the internet to take responsibility. The first thing you did was take off the responsibility and play into this damsel in distress character. That’s what you did. […] You are sad that Jenna Marbles is leaving YouTube, and you are blaming it on black and Asian people, […] What you are saying is ‘why are you guys so angry with racism?’ ‘Why can’t you get over racism for one second so my YouTuber can continue to live her life?’AMANDABB | YOUTUBE
“You don’t have to apologize! People are SO sensitive!”
We saw a very similar thing happen just yesterday as actress Halle Berry tweeted out a statement where she apologized for considering taking the role of a transgender man. Many trans people were upset and concerned about this, as the continuous casting of cis women in roles of trans men / cis men in roles of trans women, sends the damaging message that a trans man is really just a cis woman in dress up, and vice versa.
After becoming more educated on why her playing a trans man would be harmful to trans people she immediately apologized for her comments and thanked the trans community for continuing to educate her on such a significant topic. Her apology was immediate, informed, and many trans people thanked her for being understanding and seemed to accept the apology.
It is such a weird reaction. She’s claiming responsibility for something that she did wrong and you – a person who was not affected, offended, or hurt by her statements – are telling her that she has absolutely nothing to apologize for.
What…? She is acknowledging that she messed up; she even explains exactly why it was offensive. But you’re not listening to her and are virtually doing the exact thing you claim to hate about cancel culture radicals; you are ignoring her sorries and pushing her back into a box she has grown out of.
“He’s Apologized! What more do you want?”
Jeffree Star and Shane Dawson
Someone might apologize for being a racist, but that does not mean that the people affected by their racism has to accept their apology. Even if they do accept it, that does not mean they are being forgiven.
The case of Jeffree Star and Shane Dawson is too extensive to get into now, but let’s just sum it by saying that these two people build their multi-millionaire careers on vile racism (n-words, blackface, talking about throwing battery acid on black women…), working with paedophiles, justifying paedophilia, blackmail, manipulation… the list, unfortunately, goes on.
Now both of them has addressed some of these instances. Their fans have accepted the apology, and wants people to “let go of the past”. Yet the majority of these fans are white and not the ones affected by their actions and racism. Many of them have been longterm fans as well, which means that they were right there as all of this was happening, and presumably didn’t care.
If this was any other situation, if let’s say, your partner had been verbally abusing you. You said enough and told them to leave. They then apologized by saying that they are sorry if “the words they said offended you”. Suddenly your partner’s best friend and Yes-man jumps out and thanks your partner for apologizing. They then tell you to move on and stop talking about it, because they don’t like “the drama” that it brings.
It doesn’t take a lot of thinking to realise that if you’re not the one who has been hurt by another person, it’s really not up to you to accept or forgive them for their actions. And it is certainly not up to you to tell the people affected that they are being too sensitive and need to stop talking about it because it’s making the perpetrator sad to hear that people don’t like them.
So next time, before you tweet about how much you hate that people are being asked to be held accountable, take a step back, and just maybe re-evaluate where those feelings are coming from and what you are actually trying to say.